Review: What’s Wrong With “Don’t Worry Darling”

After witnessing the discourse surrounding, as some call it, one of 2022’s most debated films, I decided that it was finally time for me to see Olivia Wilde’s newest movie, Don’t Worry Darling. I wasn’t expecting much; I did not have high hopes for Harry Styles’s acting, nor Wilde’s directing (sorry!), but went into my viewing experience with a clean slate, ready to take on whatever Wilde had to give me.

If you do not know the premise of this movie, it centers around a married couple, Alice, (played by Florence Pugh), and Jack, (played by Harry Styles), as they adapt to life within the Victory Project, a neighborhood community and mysterious, top-secret operation. However, despite its secrecy, the Victory Project seems to be an attempt at creating a better society, a place and organization that, as leader of the project Frank (played by Chris Pine) asserts, is changing the world (who knows how?). Of course, a place like this has many secrets, which are uncovered as the movie progresses, with only the last 10 minutes given for the most consequential part of the film where all the secrets are uncovered. 

Image courtesy of Bloody Disgusting

While many themes were covered, the film mainly centered around the oppressiveness of the patriarchy shrouded by the seemingly blissful state of marriage. The women in the movie gladly stay at home while the men go off to work on their mysterious Victory Project, a Project that their wives do not know, nor ask about. Some women begin to question this, as well as the actual reason as to why they are there, but are silenced with pills or institutionalization if they get too curious. This movie would have been so much better if the central themes of women’s oppression, conformity, control, etc. were fully explored. Instead, most of the movie focused on how seemingly great this cult-like society was, and how the only two people who disagreed were silenced. Again, only the last 10-20 minutes were given for the final reveal, resulting in a rushed ending that, if given more time, could have had more depth. 

It is easy to tell that many aspects of the film are heavily inspired by preexisting media. For example, in an interview about the movie, Wilde is quoted saying, “We based that character [Frank, head of the Victory project] on this insane man, Jordan Peterson, who is this pseudo-intellectual hero to the incel community.” Some also call the movie a rip-off of The Stepford Wives, which is a classic 1975 film centering around suspiciously similar themes.

One thing, however, that I cannot complain about is the cinematography, set, and costume design. These were fantastic, with the set taking the viewer into a 1950’s paradise while also maintaining the movie’s themes through utopian visuals. The costume design made me envious of these poor, trapped housewives, simply for their elegant style. This aspect of the film is what drew me in and made me want to keep watching.

While Don’t Worry Darling attempted to create a political commentary on the treatment of women in today’s society, on top of other, less explored, socio-political issues, these were not sufficiently flushed out enough in order to create a truly profound story. The premise was a great one, but only the last 10 minutes of the movie were left for the twist ending, which explained most of the movie. Again, the cinematography, set, and costume design were great, as well as Florence Pugh’s acting (though that is to be expected), these factors are really the only reason I would say I enjoyed this movie. If you want to watch Don’t Worry Darling, just be warned that you may not come out of it with any newfound understanding of society. Maybe just a newfound desire to buy some 1950’s housewife dresses and even more respect for Florence Pugh and her acting skills. Rating: 6.5/10

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